P. Gunasegaram is a veteran financial analyst and journalist. He has spent some time in the corporate sector as head of equity analysis at several brokerages and has done consulting work on various subjects.
In the late 2000s, he was running the Business Desk at a Malaysian English daily – The Star. It was here that he started to look at a suspicious business transaction.
At that time, in 2009, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, which started off as Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) had issued a RM5 billion bond at a price that is attractive for most investors, largely in part because it was guaranteed by the Malaysian government.
The answer lies both in enforcing laws that we have and throwing out other legislation so that there will always be room for legitimate debate and discourse
“I was already interested in 1MDB back in 2009,” says P. Gunasegaram. “But my employer at that time – The Star – which is owned by the Malaysian Chinese Association, a component party of the then ruling coalition Barisan Nasional has told me that this story was off limits,” he recalls.
Nearly ten years on, what has transpired is now considered the greatest financial travesty the world has seen. The vocabulary ‘Kleptocracy’ or rule by thieves has entered into the thesaurus of Malaysians.
“Sometimes it is easier to define a book by what it is not, and then zooming in to what it is about and why it was written,” he says.
“Now that we have finally got rid of a kleptocratic government, we should think about what needs to be done to ensure that something like 1MDB never happens again. That question is deeper than it seems and the answer lies both in enforcing laws that we have and throwing out other legislation so that there will always be room for legitimate debate and discourse as well as openness and transparency in all aspects of government operations," he stresses.
In 2013, he set up KiniBiz, where it became the first publication to write a detailed investigative piece on 1MDB and in his book '1MDB: The Scandal That Brought Down The Government', he details how billions came to be lost through the state-investment fund, and why it is so important to ensure that scandals such as 1MDB do not happen ever again.
Watch the full interview below